Ms. Mphaka (LM) has studied at institutions of higher learning such as the National University of Lesotho (NUL), the University of Cape Town (UCT), the University of Stellenbosch, and the University of Virginia (USA). She is currently pursuing an Executive Data Science management certificate with the University of Stellenbosch, as well as an MBA (Leading Innovation and Change) with York St John University.
She has over 10 years’ experience in corporate Lesotho spanning the banking, insurance, and telecommunications sectors. She currently exercises her skills as a Product Pricing and Client Experience Manager at Nedbank Lesotho and is the Founder and Executive Director of the Learning Mindset Foundation.
She is also the former Chairman of the MMI (Momentum Metropolitan International) Millennial Advisory Board. Her current obsession is the growing phenomenon of BIG data and predictive analytics, more specifically, the impact of analytics on organizational competitive advantage.
She is an avid learner of BI and NoSQL tools like Hadoop and Qlikview, however, she will never forget her love for C++, fuzzy logic, and AI. Today, she discusses issues on Pioneering Digital Skills Acquisition in Lesotho with Advocate Mothepa Ndumo (MN)
MN: The Learning Mindset Foundation, of which you are the Executive Director, is regarded as a digital skills pioneer in Lesotho, what motivated you and your team to venture into this territory?
LM: The Learning Mindset Foundation was what I and nine of the founding members regarded as an answer to the current digital skills acquisition gap we saw in the country. It was perhaps an answer in three parts.
The first of which was to create an entity that veered away from a traditional understanding of tech skills as coding skills. The field of tech is quite broad, and we felt it was not being explored in its entirety. This is why we specialize in Design, in UX, and Data Visualization as core skills.
Secondly, the Foundation sought to answer a question the founding members posed to themselves: “What do we wish we had available to us after completing our high school leaving examinations?” We realized that Basotho youth have an 8-month gap between high school and tertiary which was currently not being filled through a concerted program of skills acquisition that frankly young people need if they are to compete in the future world of work.
Thirdly, the Learning Mindset Foundation was borne out of the need to democratize digital skills acquisition. This philosophy is what makes our programs freely accessible or very affordable to access.
LM: If you were to be given a free hand to design a digital skills acquisition policy for Lesotho what would its broad contours look like and what would inform your emphases?
MN: The fundamental question we need to ask ourselves is about our place in the emerging digital economy. Who do we want to be exact and what will it take us to get there. Are we suppliers of an aspect of the economy or are we just consumers?
Personally, I think it is time we became suppliers of technology, from manufacturing, all the way to software development and supporting consumption policies on the continent. My policy scope would then center on ensuring that Basotho youth have access to these three broad strokes of knowledge.
When you talk access, one needs to understand that we need centers of excellence in this country that specialize in technology creation and we need infrastructure that permeates to the remote villages and underdeveloped towns to create local technology hubs.
We need engineering schools, we need design schools and we need business schools to ensure that we understand how to create products, and how to play in the market we want to participate in.
These specialist schools would focus on computer and robotic manufacturing, cloud technology, cybersecurity, user experience and design, technology inclusiveness, legal-tech, new age marketing techniques such as digital and social media marketing, as well fintech solutions like blockchain technology.
They would all target young Basotho coming out of high school, those coming out of tertiary as well as those seasoned professionals who want to upgrade their skill set. Not only does this create an avenue of access beyond our traditional degrees, but it also ensures that we circulate currency within the country.
Currently, if any Mosotho wishes to get an MBA, one of the most lucrative qualifications for an incumbent and the offering institution, they have to go out of the country to get it. The same applies really with the majority of the emerging digital skills.
If we want to stop being consumers, we need to ensure that we can produce knowledge in the country first. We already have entities doing this work. The Learning Mindset Foundation, Basali Tech, Girls Coding Academy, Gem Institute, Start Smart, etc. are all testimony of the ability to create these programs. The policy will help scale the impact immensely.